Learning how to learn

On Thursday last week (the first day of school) I met my 6th grade technology class for the first time. After introductions were out of the way. I gave the students a little pretest on Excel. The first program we are going to look at. I asked the students how many of them had experience with Excel and about half raised their hands. Some had done very little just creating basic row and column assignments while others had made charts and used formulas. The pretest was simple. Bold, center, and change the color of some text, Format some numbers in a cell, create a sum formula, etc. I walked around the room and watched as some kids went through the exercise with breeze while others couldn’t do more than center the text. Everyone was at a different level which was fine, but here’s the interesting part. Not one students who was struggling ever click on the help button.

Do these students know how to learn? The answers to all their questions were sitting right in front of them in that little assistant dude they love to click on, play with, and move around the screen. But not one out of my 18 students asked it a question. Why?

Have we taught kids not to learn on their own? I made it very clear at the beginning that this was just an activity to see what they knew, I even helped some kids find the center button to center their text. They asked each other for help, which I encouraged. They weren’t allowed on the Internet to go find the answers because it was the first day of school and we had just finished going over the Internet Acceptable Use policy that they need to have signed and brought back before they can go online. Some students sat there for 10 minutes just looking around, lost, not knowing what to do or where to go. Now if this would have been a video game I wonder how many would have kept clicking on things until they figured it out, but it wasn’t a video game and they were lost and didn’t know where to turn to for help.

This is a perfect example of what we have been saying, that students need to know how to learn. That could be the best skill I teach them all year. I can’t wait for Monday to come so that I can take this teachable moment and run with it. Monday’s lesson…the little assistant guy does more then put himself in a garbage can!

[tags]learning how to learn[/tags]

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